This Week

  • Today: 10:00 Worship, Communion; 11:00Making Peace Seminar
  • Monday @ 5:30 p.m.: Girl Scouts
  • Tuesday Bible Study: @ Jeremiah’s, 2 p.m.
  • Wednesday @ 11: Spiritual Council
  • AA Meetings: in the Parish Hall:
    • Tuesdays, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. – Discussion
    • Wednesdays, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. – Big Book
    • Fridays 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. – Discussion

Making Peace Seminar Today!

Sexton 7 of this this 12-week video series by Jim Van Yperen based on his book, Making Peace: A Guide to Overcoming Church Conflict. Meetings will be Sunday mornings, 11:00 a.m.

Christian Unity

(…continued) Dispute sharpens and refines doctrine, but only when Christian unity is maintained. Where unity is broken, doctrine divides. In fact, it is the very maintenance of Christian unity among the disputants that serves as the engine of sanctification. Therefore, the church must maintain doctrine, dispute, and unity in order to be a vital part of the body of Christ. When any of these three things are abandoned, overlooked, or diminished, sanctification is aborted as those involved cut themselves off from the love, the power, and the vitality of the wholeness of Christ Himself.

The Greek word translated as unity (ἑνότης) is found only in Ephesians 4:3 and 4:13. Of course, Scripture speaks of the idea of unity in many places, but we will focus this examination on these verses because of the specificity of the idea and the use of this word.

The central question is whether Christian unity is based on something that we are or on something that we do. The contrast of being versus doing lies at the heart of much confusion in Christianity. Is Christianity primarily a matter of ontology (being)? Or of morality (doing)? Is it possible to be a Christian apart from doing Christianity? Is it possible to do Christianity apart from being a Christian? Does the being lead to the doing? Or does the doing lead to the being? The issue here is the order of salvation (ordo salutis). Must justification precede sanctification? Or must sanctification precede justification? Which comes first? And which plays the dominant or supportive role? Can these things only be understood one way?

These concerns have been debated for eons. The Bible can be adequately understood to teach both positions, and faithful Christians have taken both positions over the centuries. Therefore, we must conclude that the issue is a false dilemma because different people have different needs and abilities at different times in their lives, which lead them to approach God and Scripture differently. Some are aware of beginning with being and some with doing. But the important thing is to note that Christianity isn’t Christianity without both. The order of salvation is only an issue when either being or doing are absent or inadequately engaged in the lives of Christians.

For the sake of discussion we will associate being with union with Christ and doing with Christian unity. Thus, being in union with Christ must always lead to doing the work of Christian unity, just as the work of Christian unity must always lead to greater union with Christ. To miss either one is to miss the wholeness of union with Christ.

Being In Union With Christ

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” –John 17:20-21

Here Jesus prayed for both existing believers and future believers to be in union with Him. Therefore, this prayer is not merely for the unity of the Christian church, but is for the wholeness of humanity because Jesus fully believed that God’s intent was to draw all people into Jesus Christ (John 1:7, 5:23, 12:32).

In addition, Jesus identified this union in Him as a matter of their ontological identity. Like Russian nesting dolls, God is in Jesus, and Jesus is in God, and believers are in their unity—caught up in their Trinitarian union. Clearly, this is about the identity of human beings, both individually and corporately. It is about who we are as Christians, about Christian character—and it has a spiritual dimension and a physical dimension, an individual dimension and a corporate dimension. It is not simply a matter of abstract thinking, but of the actual elements or constituent parts of our lives.(to be continued…)

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